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Vice Principal, Educator - High School

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What is the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher?

I am curious to know what people consider the attributes that separate good from great. I would also like to know what you think would motivate a person who is a good teacher to aspire for that same greatness. Thanks for your ideas!


Closing Statement from Gene Doray

Firstly, I am deeply appreciative of the thoughtful commentaries by all. As both a teacher and an administrator, I have a strong investment in finding out what motivates people to improve their practice. Passion for their subject area? Passion for student success? A combination of both? For me it boils down to the desire to make a positive impact and improve the life chances of all students. I believe it is an honour to have the opportunity to play such an important role in the lives of our children.
When I posed the question, in the back of my mind I was thinking about a quotation that I had heard that sought to explain why we had so few "great schools". It was something like, "the reason we only have a few great schools is that we have so many good ones." The statement first caused me to ponder what traits the speaker used to differentiate the two, but later I focused on the notion of "complacency". So, I wondered "aloud" what it is that causes a person to strive for more. Once again, thanks for sharing your ideas and insights with us all. I apologize for not being involved for the past several weeks as I was enjoying some family time on an island with no computer in sight!

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    Jul 6 2011: I believe any teacher is a good teacher. Obviously, they have a wealth of knowledge in their subject that is at the prejudice of the student to tap into. But what really makes a teacher great, I mean superb, is in their ability to engage their students. Like a great TV show, after each episode, it should leave a cliff hanger, leaving the viewer wanting more, perhaps to the point they go on to research more about the show (i.e. director, time period, themes, behind the scenes, etc.). The same goes for a great teacher. If a teacher can leave their students with a desire after each lecture to go further into the subject, that will spark a focused interest in the subject, which leads to in depth understanding, which leads to creative intelligence. Now, this is an art that not all teacher can learn. It would be cliche to say that ENTHUSIASM is important, which it is, but I believe its more about drawing clear pictures of the subject through real life analogies, drawing comparisons through similar subject matter, incorporate/compare information from pass lectures, allow/aspire conversation, use ridiculous props, give timely examples, etc. Now, these don't need to be long and thorough examples and analogies, but simply short pauses to be creative with the subject matter. In most cases when a student goes to class, they see/hear ones and zeros, they are not understanding. Creativity is intelligence. Engage your students through enthusiasm, conversation, analogies, and spark imagination.

    We think as we were taught.

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